Welcome to Day 8 of the 31 Days of Random Reflections on Raising and Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.
The first time I was hospitalized, I was confident the medical team would respect my birthing plan.
I came equipped for the hospital stay with a mini-kit of natural baby products: natural baby bath products, natural diaper balm, natural baby wipes, and non-chlorinated diapers. I was all set to go for a wonderful and safe hospital stay. I was excited to finally be able to use the new products on my precious little bundle.
But, all of that thrill was gone with the utterance of one little phrase.
As I laid the products out for my baby’s first bath, the nurse frowned, picked up the bottles, and put them down again without saying a word. When I reached for the diaper balm, she reached for the hospital’s brand. Realizing that she may not be familiar with this line of products, I said, “They’re natural.”
Without hesitation, she said, “Poison is natural, too.”
I timidly retreated.
In that moment, over one little jar of diaper balm, I realized I had little influence in this institution.
I never took the products out again for the rest of his stay.
After nine months of preparing for the birth, getting all the right products, reading all the right parenting magazines, I allowed one person’s words to change my mind about doing what I wanted to do for my baby.
I didn’t say anything.
What happened? Why did I clam up?
The answer: I was afraid. I was at a loss. I was in a vulnerable spot.
Being a new mother, I questioned myself and my abilities right from the get-go. Having a child in PICU made me all the more fearful, doubtful, and insecure.
Over the years, I have seen the same thing happen to other parents at their medical appointments.
I’ve witnessed fragile and vulnerable parents have their questions abruptly shut-down and made to feel “less than” — often right in front of other parents and staff.
I have witnessed parents, much like myself, back-off with their tail between their legs.
Encouraging you to speak up
I am not sharing this story because I want to expose the medical field for their lack of understanding of the importance of parental involvement in their child’s healing.
My purpose is to encourage you to speak up. To learn from my cowardliness. To not let yourself be intimidated — even in a frightening institution like a hospital. Or, a rehabilitation center. Or, a school.
You are your child’s advocate.
You are his voice.
You are his parent.
You are his teacher.
Don’t let that right be taken from you.
A lot of what I do and say today has to do with all of the things I wish I would have said and done at my most vulnerable. You will one day find yourself cornered in a situation that is unfamiliar to you. Be prepared.
Permit me to empower you
Arm yourself by preparing answers to these questions:
- What do you believe about health, healthcare, and healing?
- What is your perspective on education?
- What do you believe about raising your child with special needs, long-term?
Plan your words wisely. List your questions intelligently. Defend your beliefs firmly.
I was taken off-guard that day many years ago because I wasn’t equipped as a new parent to stand my ground.
You can do better.
Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words with regards to your beliefs about parenting, healing, medication, education, life, etc.? I’d love to hear your story. Simply leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter.